Statement by the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram, during UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Conflict and Food Security
(11 March 2021)

Madam President,

We thank the United States for convening this UN Security Council High-level Open Debate on conflict and food security, and welcome this important initiative.

Situations of conflict as well as foreign occupation remain one of the principal sources of global hunger and starvation.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), nearly 60% of some 700 million chronically food insecure population of the world live in conflict affected countries. Likewise, of the world’s 144 million stunted children, 80% live in countries affected by conflict. The World Food Programme has warned of the danger of famine in some of the poorest countries and conflict zones.

Madam President,

It is a matter of great concern that starvation and collective punishment have often been used as tools to advance military or political objectives, in stark violation of international humanitarian law and UN Security Council resolution 2417 (2018).

A case in point is the inhuman military siege imposed by India in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJ&K) since 5 August 2019 to forcibly change the status and demographic composition of the UN-recognized disputed territory, as well as to deny the Kashmiri people their UN prescribed right to self-determination.

According to estimates, the direct economic loss incurred by the civilian population in IIOJ&K as a result of this military siege is well over US$ 5.3 billion. Nearly half a million jobs have been lost. The agriculture sector, which is a mainstay for the majority of the Kashmiris, has been systematically crippled.

The complete communications blackout, imposition of shoot-at-sight curfews, and severing of all transport links, imposed now for nearly 600 days, has prevented Kashmiri farmers from reaching their farmlands and resulting in acute food shortages. Thousands of acres of farmland remained untended. Kashmiris have watched helplessly as the produce of their apple orchards has rotted away. Farm products, constituting the entire year’s worth of income for most Kashmiri farmers, have perished without reaching markets.

Such deliberate actions to coerce the civilian population into submission constitute violations of UNSC resolution 2417 (2018) which inter alia calls for protecting civilian objects, sources of food production and distribution; and condemns actions that deprive civilian populations of all essentials indispensable for their survival.

These measures are also against UNGA resolution A/RES/S-6/3201 of 1 May 1970, which, among other things, guarantees peoples living under foreign occupation, effective control over their natural resources and economic activities.

Madam President,

Pakistan supports the resolution of ongoing conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy on the basis of UN resolutions and international agreements.

A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is indispensable for peace and stability in the region and beyond. Prime Minister Imran Khan has consistently maintained that the conflict in Afghanistan can be ended, not by military force, but through a political settlement involving the full spectrum of Afghanistan’s political landscape.

We believe that sustainable peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. We have, therefore, fully facilitated the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.

Pakistan is Afghanistan’s largest trading partner and continues to help provide support in the areas of agriculture, health, education, as well as infrastructure development. Pakistan has committed US$ 1 billion to development in Afghanistan, and nearly US$ 500 million has already been used for infrastructure and capacity building projects.

Pakistan believes that infrastructure development and regional connectivity through Afghanistan can spur economic growth for the entire region. Pakistan and Afghanistan naturally link Central Asian and the Eurasian heartland to the Arabian Sea. This offers immense opportunities for regional connectivity through mutual cooperation. Such projects will benefit the Afghan people by generating economic activities and helping lift millions of Afghans and other people in the region out of poverty and isolation.

Madam President,

Conflict-induced food insecurity has assumed even greater significance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will push around 100 million people into extreme poverty and add 83 to 132 million to the total number of undernourished around the world.

Failure to address this challenge will exacerbate existing global and national inequalities, thereby feeding the vicious cycle of hunger, deprivation, poverty and conflict.

The world faces multiple challenges in recovering from the pandemic and achieving the vital first two Sustainable Development Goals: “No Poverty” and “Zero Hunger”. There is lack of financing; shortage of investment; trade distortion; unsustainable production and consumption patterns; the degradation of agricultural lands and forests; an impending water crisis; loss of bio-diversity; polluted rivers and oceans.

The world needs a common plan and strategy for global recovery and the survival and prosperity of all humanity.

Madam President,

We must address the systemic causes of poverty and hunger; eliminate rural poverty and protect our food systems, which are the main source of livelihoods for nearly 4.5 billion people.

The huge agricultural subsidies provided by certain richer economies distort global markets and make it impossible for farmers in the developing countries to compete. International agricultural trade must, therefore, be rationalized.

Governments need to be more active in ensuring adequate and fair prices for agricultural and food products, and not leave farmers to the mercy of corporations. Moreover, we need to invest in sustainable agriculture infrastructure; apply new technologies to enhance food production and ensure efficient usage of water and land; and re-think our patterns of food consumption and production.

Madam President,

While discussing the linkage between conflict and food security, we must also take into account the impact of the unilateral coercive measures towards intensifying food insecurity, aggravating poverty and endangering livelihoods in the targeted countries.

The negative impact of such measures has been repeatedly affirmed in numerous resolutions of the UN General Assembly as well as by the Human Rights Council. Both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council have recognized that people should not be deprived of their means of subsistence, especially food and medicines, even where enforcement action may have been enacted by the Security Council.

Madam President,

Overcoming the challenge posed by linkage between conflict and food security requires a comprehensive response and concerted international efforts. We must address not only the symptoms but also their underlying causes.

Pakistan hopes that this debate will help to generate momentum for meaningful action to this end.

I thank you.